A public artwork is an artwork in any medium, planned and executed outside a gallery context and intended specifically for exhibition within public space.
Public spaces are generally open and accessible to all. They can be indoors – such as foyers, atriums, airports or shopping centres – or outdoors – such as forecourts, parks, squares, freeways or plazas.
Types of public art
Permanent public artworks are meant to stay in their current location for a long time, e.g., statues and sculptures. These works are meant to be durable, made from bronze, marble, granite, steel, and basalt, and can last centuries.
Temporary public artworks have a predetermined life, sometimes hours to perhaps days or years, e.g., installations, projections and performances created for public spaces. These works can be ephemeral, and materials used can include paper, chalk, video, sound and performance.
Stand-alone works can be defined as 3-D structures and independent of other structures.
A site-specific installation describes an artwork where the context, the surroundings or the setting is just as important as the work. Each element informs the other, and both elements are essential to the artwork.
An integrated public artwork is incorporated into another structure, e.g., a streetscape, building or landscape design. Examples range from street paving to sculptural seating and artist-design glass (windows) where the artwork might be a metaphor.
An applied public artwork is placed directly onto the surface of another structure. The work is 2-D and includes murals, chalk drawings, legal ‘street art’, and illegal graffiti.
Performance-based public art can include dance, theatre, music, and other live actions in public spaces. These are temporary artworks as they involve performers and involve choreography, direction, or musical scores.
Large & small scale
Large-scale public artwork can be described as monumental and expansive in a public space in open parks, tall buildings, and large trees. The experience of the viewer can be overwhelming, alienating or disconcerting.
Small-scale public art is intimate between the viewer and the artwork and can be personal and quiet.
Static artworks at still or motionless, so it does not change murals or statues.
Kinetic artworks move in some way, e.g., sculptures that move in the breeze.
Sound can be an integrated part of a public artwork as part of the performance or on its own. Live ‘n’ Local festival offers a range of sounds and performances that delight the listener.
Digital artworks include CGI images projected on buildings or videos onto a screen. The 2023 festival is described this way:
Immerse yourself in an enchanting world of art, performance, light and colour as we see the much anticipated return of the Illuminate Wollondilly Festival of Art & Light this September 2023.
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